As you drive along Highway 550 a few miles south of Ouray, CO and look up to the west you might notice an antique shop with a clothesline full of clothes perched on a narrow ledge above the road. It is actually the old blacksmith shop from the Neosho Mine, circa 1905, and the only way to get a close-up view is a 2.2 mile hike up the Sutton Mine Trail, which begins on Camp Bird Road just past the Ice Park Trail.
Chris, Jim and I tackled the short but steep trail, which does not go to Sutton Mine despite the name. But it does go to the Ouray Overlook, Bear Creek Overlook, and ends at the Neosho Mine.
The trail only gains 900’ of elevation but most of it is in the first mile or so as it works its way up steep switchbacks to the overlooks.
It’s always nice to see Ouray from above.
From the Bear Creek Overlook we had great views of the Million Dollar Highway, Bear Creek Falls, and could still see Ouray.
Along the way we found golden fungi.
And golden rocks.
And Oregon grapes with leaves already turning red.
From the Bear Creek Overlook the mine is another 0.6 mile and 300’ descent. The guys were interested in the tunnel.
And I did a little antique shopping at the old blacksmith shop.
Then we continued on to few more buildings, including this 6 man bunkhouse.
I was more curious about the clothesline and found this:
“According to Ouray County Historical Museum Curator and Ouray County Historical Society board member Donald Paulson, the sign and laundry were first put up in 1970 as a joke by late local historian Roger Henn. Each year thereafter, someone would climb up to the blacksmith shop and replace the clothes the wind and snow ripped down the previous winter. The quirky tradition has endured to the point that when Paulson recently applied for a grant to the Colorado Historical Fund to repair the site, the county commissioners endorsed the grant only if it would guarantee that neither the sign nor the laundry be disturbed.”
It was another enjoyable hike and we did not contribute any items of clothing to the line.